In this series we’ll be picking apart this episode in Luke 10 piece by piece, exploring what it looks like on the road to discipleship in the company of Jesus.
“The Lord now chose seventy (-two) other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.” (Luke 10:1-3)
Part 1: “He sent them…”
Roger has been teaching Driver’s Education for 4 decades, providing instruction for 50,000+ young people and logging well over 300,000 hours in the passenger seat of a car. I once asked Roger what’s the most valuable lesson he’s learned about teaching students how to drive. I believe his answer is a prophetic word to the church, and brings us back to the disciple-making approach of Jesus found in above in Luke 10.
Roger said: “The state system has it all wrong. They put students through 30 hours of classroom instruction listening to lecture, watching videos, memorizing facts and statistics, and learning all about driving. Then they only require 6 hours of actual behind-the-wheel, on-road training. They have it completely backwards. Students don’t learn best by listening to lecture but by being thrown in the driver’s seat with a trained expert and actually doing it.”
And so it is with the church and making disciples of Christ. Have we put too much emphasis on congregational gatherings and Sunday sermons? As leaders do we GATHER more than we SEND our flock out onto the rugged yet exciting road of discipleship? I am not dismissing the significant role of corporate gatherings, worship and good sermons. But I would submit that this is not the most effective way to make disciples.
I lead a youth group of about 70 teenagers. We gather together as a group weekly for worship, fellowship and teaching. Now, when and how can I, like Jesus, find ways to “send them out”, throwing them behind-the-wheel and really learning what being a disciple really entails when we get outside of the weekly church gathering and onto the road? For a few years I taught driver education — both classroom and behind-the-wheel — and students were bored to death through my lectures and constantly fell asleep. Yet, not one student ever fell asleep behind the wheel as they learned to drive. The actual driving excited, or terrified, them. I have experienced the same thing with making young disciples of Jesus: Long sermons bore them; but service projects and mission trips invigorate, inspire and transform them.
Part of the problem is the church’s tendency to separate evangelism/outreach ministry from discipleship ministry, thinking that only mature disciples are ready to be promoted to evangelism and mission. I believe they are inseparable, and disciples will grow and mature best while doing the work of mission and evangelism. Disciples are made on mission, traveling with Jesus, getting the dust of his sandals kicked up into our eyes as we seek the lost.
I believe an annual mission trip each summer is a start, but not nearly enough. Being on-the-road-disciples needs to be built into the fabric of our entire ministry. What might this look like?